Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking cells that are dividing quickly, which is why they work against cancer cells. But other cells in the body, such as those in the bone marrow, the lining of the mouth and intestines, and the hair follicles, also divide quickly. These cells are also likely to be affected by chemotherapy, which can lead to side effects.
The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type and dose of drugs given and the length of time they are taken. General side effects of chemotherapy drugs can include:• Hair loss
• Mouth sores
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
• Increased chance of infections (due to low white blood cell counts)
• Easy bruising or bleeding (due to low blood platelet counts)
• Fatigue (due to low red blood cell counts)
• Fertility Problems
Most side effects are short-term and tend to go away after treatment is finished. There are often ways to lessen these side effects. For example, drugs can be given to help prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting. Do not hesitate to discuss any questions about side effects with the cancer care team.
You should report any side effects or changes you notice while getting chemotherapy to your medical team so that they can be treated promptly. In some cases, the doses of the chemotherapy drugs may need to be reduced or treatment may need to be delayed or stopped to prevent the effects from getting worse.